It seems a slightly unconventional approach, as far as tributes and fundraisers go. “The Wedding of the Runaway Bride to Benefit the Madelyn Bergen Belliveau Fund” was indeed a smashing affair, replete with white chandeliers and twinkling lights, lovely floral arrangements and a bountiful spread of food and spirits befitting such a celebration.

And indeed, no bride but more than 100 guests gathered to celebrate a woman who began her career as a registered nurse, married a physician and dedicated her life to raising her six children. And along the way, she became a significant fundraiser for various nonprofits, including Southern Maine Medical Center and HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, the beneficiary of the fund recently established in her name.

“I think it is important,” said Madelyn Bergen Belliveau, discussing the fund established to support advanced education for HomeHealth Visiting Nurses. “…Maybe a nurse who left her job to have children and wants to come back to the work force needs to be certified. I’d like to see that kind of support available.”

She smiles brightly as she considers the real-life, positive impact both access to, and financial support of, advanced education for nurses will have, both for nurses and the often vulnerable and homebound patients they serve.

“And, I just like the idea!” she said cheerfully, looking out at the room of partygoers there to help champion her cause, including her expansive brood of children and grandchildren.

Cynthia Belliveau, a dean at the University of Vermont and the oldest of Belliveau’s children, spoke on her mother’s behalf. “I’m sure you know my mother for her legendary energy and determination to make things happen. We want to thank you all for being here and supporting my mother’s passion for nursing and home health care.”

“It’s extremely expensive for any kind of education in the state of Maine,” said state senator Linda Valentino of Saco, who also has ties to Belliveau that go back to her high school days when the two were neighbors. “With any kind of grant or scholarship, it happens one person at a time. If you can reach out and touch just one person, it makes a difference. That’s what Madelyn has done over the course of her life.”

“This is so important because it will help fund these opportunities,” explained Karen Markellos of Wells, who is a HomeHealth visiting nurse. “Advanced education is so important because nurses are doing so much more today.”

Markellos was joined by her friends Sandy Martin of Saco and Traci Moulton of Wells.

“This is great,” said Debbie Betts, development and marketing coordinator for HomeHealth Visiting Nurses. “Our nurses are going to have a great benefit from further education so we can serve our patients as best we can.”

“The shortage of nurses and funding for higher education is a real issue,” said Patsy Aprile, CEO of Goodall Hospital in Sanford and a board member of HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, attending with her husband, Bobby. “This fund will give people an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t be there. It’s fabulous.”

“Madelyn has always been philanthropic,” explained Mia Millefoglie, vice president of development for HomeHealth Visiting Nurses. “She is passionate about education, nursing and health care, and this event is really about helping to endow the Belliveau fund to advance education and certification.”

Proceeds from this event support HomeHealth Visiting Nurses through the Madelyn Bergen Belliveau Fund to advance and strengthen care for at-risk, chronically ill patients. For more information, please visit www.homehealth.org.

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

mlogan@maine.rr.com